How to Order a U.S. Birth Certificate From Out Of the Country

UPDATE [4.11.19] – To help keep our readers informed of the latest information on birth certificates, we’ve included a video below. This video will help you have a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to knowing how to order a U.S. birth certificate from out of the country, or if you just need an official copy of your birth certificate.

An official U.S. birth certificate is commonly used to prove you are a citizen of the United States. If you live in the U.S., getting your certificate may be as simple as filling out a form online and providing a few pieces of information.

However, if you are a U.S. citizen who either currently lives abroad or were born outside of the United States, the process can be a bit daunting. No matter what your reason for requesting a certificate, the process may be easier than you may think. Three situations which occur frequently are listed below. See if one of these scenarios apply to you and find out the best way to proceed for how to order a U.S. birth certificate from out of the country.

Born in the U.S and Living Abroad

If you were born in the U.S. but not sure how to order a U.S. birth certificate while living abroad, it’s best to start with researching the vital records office in the state you were born – most of these government agencies have websites which explain all the available methods to order birth certificates or other vital records. Several of these agencies even provide for ordering certificates online, making it much easier to navigate the ordering process if you are currently living outside of the United States. In many cases, these agencies may utilize an independent company to process the online order, which is nice because you will typically have access to a team of customer service agents who can help you with your questions no matter the time zone in which you may reside.

If you are living abroad, it may take a little longer to get your certificate delivered to your home. However, there are often expedited shipping arrangements available that can speed up the process.

Born Abroad or on Foreign Military Base to Citizen Parent(s)

Your parent(s) should have registered your birth with the US Embassy in the country where you were born. Your parent(s) would have received a document called “Consular Report of Birth Abroad” which is a report that works similarly to an official birth certificate in many cases. It is possible to get a copy of this directly from the U.S. Department of State, or you may be able to order it online through a trusted ordering service that handles online ordering for vital record agencies in the U.S. Additionally, some countries will list your birth in their records.

If your parents failed to register your birth with the U.S. Embassy, it may be more difficult to obtain an official birth record. However, if you contact the hospital or someone in the public affairs office (for military births), you may be able to talk with an expert who can help you work through the process.

Born Abroad and Adopted by a U.S. Citizen

For a child born in a foreign country and adopted by a U.S. citizen, a birth certificate may be available from the state where the adoption was registered (generally the state where the parent(s) resided during the adoption).  If the adoption was not registered in the U.S., you may need to speak with someone at the foreign embassy for the country where you were born in order to get a copy of your birth record. In these cases, a certificate of naturalization may be necessary to prove U.S. citizenship.

As you can see, the process for obtaining a birth certificate if you are currently living abroad or were born abroad to parents who were U.S. citizens may not be as easy as obtaining one locally; however, it is something that can be easily accomplished. Take the time to learn the ins and outs yourself and get in touch with an expert (someone at the proper vital record agency, or who works with a firm that provides ordering services for that agency), and you may find straightforward answers to your questions.

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